Highway 50 work done for the season | RecordCourier.com

Highway 50 work done for the season

Staff Reports

Workers reinforce the rock wall above HIghway 50 at Lake Tahoe.

All lanes of Highway 50 reopened near Cave Rock on Tuesday when the Nevada Department of Transportation wrapped up work on the mountain side ahead of this week's storms.

The highway had been down to one lane in each direction as the state reinforced the rock face to prevent boulders from raining down on motorists.

"This past winter, numerous boulders the size of large passenger vehicles fell from a roadside slope onto eastbound travel lanes of Highway 50 near Logan Creek Drive north of Cave Rock," state transportation spokeswoman Meg Ragonese said. "This summer, NDOT began construction of a roadside wall to reinforce and encase the approximately 60-foot high slope and help prevent future erosion."

Anchor bars were drilled into the slope to secure heavy-duty mesh. The mesh was then covered with more than 1,000 yards of thick sprayable "shotcrete" concrete to create what is called a soil nail wall, Ragonese said.

Work on the highway isn't done, and motorists should expect the highway to drop back to two lanes again in the spring.

That work will include applying the final aesthetic layer of concrete and finalize repairs to roadway surface and curbing damaged by the boulders.

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"The concrete will be hand-sculpted to match colors and textures of nearby natural roadside slopes," Ragonese said. "The approximately $5 million project by contractor Road and Highway Builders will enhance safety for the more than 13,000 motorists who drive the road daily."

The state has devoted $15 million over past years to stabilizing roadside slopes to reduce rockslide and other erosion on Highway 50 at Lake Tahoe. The majority of the roadside slopes in the Glenbrook area have already been stabilized with rock fall netting or reinforced roadside slopes. Last year, the state also extended the westbound, lakeside Cave Rock tunnel entrance to catch rocks before they fall on the roadway.